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Meet Our Board


Annora Dirsa
Role: Founder, Executive Director
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Speech Language Pathologist

Why you joined the VU board: I became involved with VU Philadelphia in 2018. I served as Director of Networking from 2018-2019, until I moved to Austin. I truly believe in the work that the VU organization does, and feel that volunteer work is essential to helping communities and non profits succeed. When I arrived in Austin, I saw a need for volunteers across the city and community members searching for ways to get involved. These needs have continued to grow as Austin’s landscape continues to change. I founded VU ATX in hopes of connecting Central Texas non profits and Austin residents, in order to support Austin and its future.


Natalie Acton

Role: Director of Social Media
Hometown: Long Island, New York
Occupation: Analytics Consultant
Why you joined the VU board: Having recently moved to Austin, VU blends my love for volunteering with my love for meeting new people. I am passionate about giving back to a city that has welcomed me with open arms and through VU, I am exposed to a number of nonprofits and can have an impact on the community in a new way every month. VU cultivates a community of individuals who want to support our city AND make new friends in the process. 


Jess Bradford
Role: Director of Marketing
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Occupation: Customer Success 
Why you joined the VU board: I am passionate about volunteerism and love the VU mission of making it easy for people to connect with local non-profits while also meeting new people. It's been exciting to see how this community supports each other and builds connections that extend outside of the monthly events! Austin is my favorite city and has a vibrant non-profit ecosystem. It is really rewarding when our volunteers discover a new nonprofit or cause they weren't aware of before. 


Sarah Sharpe

Role: Volunteer Relations

Hometown: Santa Maria, CA

Occupation: Licensed Specialist in School Psychology 

Why you joined the VU board: I decided to join VU because of my strong desire to be of service within the Austin community. My career has certainly influenced my passion for building positive and lasting relationships within one’s community and I’m very excited be a part of the VU crew to accomplish this through volunteerism!


Luis E Valdez
Role: Director of Networking
Hometown: Santa Fe, NM
Occupation: Program Manager, Culture & Engagement
Why you joined the VU board: I joined VU so I can invest in the community. I've lived in a few different places and always felt like a temporary visitor so I wanted to do something that connected me with people in a meaningful way to expand my Austin family. The fact I can marry my love for community service and the food/drink scene here was just the cherry on top of a locally sourced, hand scooped, seasonal, and artisanal ice cream lolol

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Ngozi Lawanson

Role: Director of Fundraising

Hometown: Houston, TX

Occupation: Sustainability Technical Program Manager

Why you joined the VU board: I am so excited to help VU ATX continue to grow and do even more in our community!


Jen’ai James
Role: Director of Partnerships
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Occupation: Director of Development @ UT Austin
Why you joined the VU board: I’ve been volunteering with VU for a little over a year and I’ve enjoyed connecting with the various nonprofits so much so that I wanted to take on the formal role within VU. I’m excited to continue to make an impact on my community and to expand the reach of VU.


Alex Herriott
Role: Director of Finance
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Software Developer
Why you joined the VU board: I moved to Austin two years ago, and one of the very first places I found a community in Austin was through VU. I love that every month through VU we meet a variety of nonprofits and new people making a difference in Austin. In joining the board, I'm excited to give back and help more new and old Austinites alike find community through volunteering. (and social hour!)

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